The world of Italian cooking offers more than just a yummy plate of pasta and a fascinating slice of pizza which are popularly linked with the Italian culture. The different Italian cuisines shine across Italy’s regions in a variety of ingredient collections, cooking techniques and eating traditions. The changing of times has also impacted the Italian cuisines. For instance, the Italian food served during the pre-Roman period has both likenesses and variances with the food served today.
Italian cooking started gaining its reputation over 2000 years ago with a lot of influence from the Roman civilization. This article captures the evolution of Italian cuisines, which has influenced the Italian dishes that are served today.
During this period, early Romans and Etruscans had both farm and seafood. For protein, they ate game meat and fish. They also depended on beans and grains from their farms. For instance, they cooked thick spelt porridge and soup, which is the modern polenta. This polenta is a typical dish in modern northern Italy. During marches, Roman soldiers used to carry their supply of spelt to reenergize.
The Romans culinary was not different from their ancestors during this period. They relied on grains and beans as well as fruits and fish. One of the common fish sauce was garum which was made from pressing fish in salt. They enjoyed dinners with sweet wine, exotic meat, and honey flavoured cuisines.
Italian food experienced dark times after the Roman and the Italian peninsula were influenced by the northern tribes. They started making simple foods from staples like meat and grains. However, Arab conquests in the south introduced culinary styles and spices from the Middle East and North Africa. This Arab influence is still felt in Italy today.
The Northern cities grew in influence and power, and the rich enjoyed luxurious cuisines flavoured with nuts, garlic, honey, and other exotic spices. Rice is thought to have been introduced in Italy by Marco Polo during this period.
New World Foraging
Sailors and explorers from Italy and other parts of Europe introduced corn, tea, coffee, tomatoes, potatoes sugar cane and spices in their countries. Some of these ingredients, such as pepper and corn, were immediately introduced in Italian cooking while others like tomatoes and potatoes took time. For instance, tomatoes, which are now termed as a typical ingredient in Italian cuisine, gained popularity in the nineteenth century.
Catherine, a famous cooking ambassador, is credited for coming up with the classy dishes of Renaissance Italy to the French court. She introduced a variety of ingredients from Italy such as frozen desserts, lettuce, and artichokes.
Rich people across Italy ate differently from the ordinary people. They relied on grains and beans that were grown locally, homegrown vegetables and foraged herbs and greens. The Italian culture of cooking seasonally and using the freshest and simple ingredients is admired all over the world. Today, the typical Italian ingredients include olive oil, vinegar, balsamic, herbs and pasta.
Italy has a rich history of its cuisines. This has made the Italians perfect their culinary art and prepare some of the best and most delicious foods in the world. Therefore, the next time you are enjoying your Italian cuisine remember it has come a long way to become that mouth-watering dish.